Too Much

The Ottawa Senators have clearly decided to part ways with Ray Emery. His comments yesterday were followed by GM Bryan Murray’s reaction:

  • “I told him yesterday, the plan right now would be to investigate possible options for him,” said Murray. “I hope there’s a team out there that will give him a look and talk to us about him.”
  • “I’ve talked to the players on a regular basis that your behaviour, your comments to the press, your comments about teammates, your attitude around the city, is a reflection on us and we want good people here and that’s what we’re going to try to achieve this summer and going forward.”

Murray is apparently secure and although there are clearly other scapegoats it appears that Emery is being held up as the number one culprit in the mess that is the Ottawa Senators.

It is my belief that the Ottawa Senators have handled this situation just about as badly as an organization can, and that this will have a major impact on the organization moving forward. Ray Emery will turn 26 later this year and his conduct off the ice may not be textbook hockey player but there are a lot of things that have been reported about him that resemble other young men who receive a lot of money and attention at a young age.

The difference in this situation is the public spanking Emery has received from both players and management since the late winter. Whatever the disconnect that came between player and teammates and player and management, once Ray Emery has been sent away there can be no doubt where the spotlight will deservedly shine.

Shunning one individual in this way changes very little. There are legit and deep problems in this organization and it is reflected in the words of Bryan Murray today. Should Ray Emery pick up the pieces and have an NHL career that too will become part of the story and will have an impact on the city of Ottawa and the franchise.

I’ve always thought Ottawa and the Senators were an organization whose time had come. Based on talent procurement and on-ice performance previous to this season those things looked to be true, the “window” of opportunity seemed open and obvious.

A “good” organization, a management group that could understand that young men fail at all kinds of things and recover, would have had a better plan. In fact, the Ottawa Senators employ a young man who at one time made a greater, more tragic error and paid a dear price before getting on with his life. I guess that kind of opportunity is made available to some and denied to others.

The way this has been handled is dreadful. Shameful. I can think of only one other example (Bo Jackson) of such utter and complete disdain piled upon one (young) man by a single town and organization. The Kansas City Royals continue to wander in the wilderness many years later. The Ottawa Senators deserve the same, and karma says book it.

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32 Responses to "Too Much"

  1. heed says:

    i’d have to agree with you on this one. they threw this guy under a bus. seems like the ottawa media has facilitated this action. i hope emery resurfaces somewhere and is able to get his revenge before the end of his career.

  2. Jonathan says:

    The entire Emery conference from the other day: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/postedsports/archive/2008/04/17/nhl-emery-goes-out-sniping.aspx

    My complete thoughts are up on my blog, but one thing really resonated from this with what you said-
    “I probably got in more trouble last year but, you know, you’re winning everyone’s on your side still.”

    When Emery was playing well, management let him get away with stupid stunts. I think they still treat players doing well that way. Tossing Emery under the bus doesn’t change the fact that the culture of the team is flawed, or that the primary responsibility for that rests with Bryan Murray.

  3. Slipper says:

    I can’t believe ayone is buying into the idea that Emery twice arriving late for practice was the crux of Ottawa’s failures?

    Maybe the people paid to write the stories, err… I mean report the news. But even then, I doubt.

  4. PunjabiOil says:

    I don’t know. Emery comes across as a prime-dona athlete and his work ethic was questionable.

    I don’t think Ottawa treated him badly whatsoever.

  5. jmacneil says:

    Ray Emery story: About 3 months back I had occasion to spend some time with a guy from Ottawa who was in town on business. Song by a Canadian hiphop artist comes on the radio and I mention I like it. He says something to the effect “You like this song? That’s my boy! Me, him, and Ray Emery go out a couple times a month.”

    Now, in our conversation to this point, hockey had not come up. He had no reason to think I was a hockey fan or that I’d even know who Ray Emery was. So I don’t get the sense he was trying to namedrop (not to mention there was *no* reason for him to try to impress me, and I was the only one there).

    So I say “Ray Emery? So what’s up with him anyway? He might be pissing away a great opportunity with this coming to practise late stuff.” He smiles knowlingly and says something to the effect of “Yeah, I know, but Ray likes the ladies. When we’re heading home, he’s on his way to the next club.” The conversation meandered from there.

    I don’t share this to start rumors, but the impression I got was that the public has only heard about a fraction of the stuff the team knows about with regard to behavior they’re not kosher with. So while I agree they shouldn’t throw Emery under the bus for what look to be some larger organizational issues, there’s possibly more going on with him than a couple late arrivals to practise.

    Having said that, I hope he gets a fresh start somewhere else and takes it seriously.

  6. godot10 says:

    Note: I’ve been stuck in Ottawa for 12 years.

    With Emery, the key thing is not being late for two practices, but not working hard in practice when he came back from injury in the fall, when Gerber was starting, and Emery didn’t automatically get the starting job back.

    How his friends on the team (like Spezza) could NOT call him out on that is beyond comprehension.

    Spezza and Heatley are NOT warriors.

    Spezza is a soft highly skilled player who likes making fancy passes. He stops playing when the game becomes tough, and thus, he is really a useless player.

    The only chance for Spezza’s evolution was if Muckler had stayed around, because I believe Muckler would have began giving him “tough love”.

    Most in Ottawa think Spezza is actually a good player, but after this gutless playoff performance (following up on the vacation he took against Anaheim last year) that should change.

    Heatley is a follower. He sort of is a bigger more talented Mike Comrie or Jimmy Carson. Heatley might be fine if Mark Messier were his centre, and he feared for his life what Messier would do to him in the lockerroom if he didn’t play hard or tough. But since Spezza is jelly, Heatley is jelly. Alfredson is sort of a warrior, so it disguises how relatively useless Spezza and Heatley are.

    Considering the money and duration the Senators have tied up in these two guys, the future in Ottawa is rather bleak.

    A lot of the other older guys are still suffering from Jacques-Martin disease. The trouble is that there are still too many of them around, and when the team is under stress, the Jacques-Martin ingrained in them comes out.

    The deterioration in Redden’s play last year and this year is incredible. Last year, one thought it was injuries, but this is now two years of nothing from Redden.

  7. Bank Shot says:

    Having said that, I hope he gets a fresh start somewhere else and takes it seriously.

    Maybe move in with Uncle Lombardi in a town called Bel-Air?

  8. Ribs says:

    I blame Murray entirely for the meltdown. Paddock was not the guy to coach the team and Murray should have pulled the trigger a lot sooner than he did.

    Then he comes in an sits their goalie for the rest of the season when anyone and everyone knew Gerber wasn’t going to get the job done. Fixes nothing.

    Then there was his deadline dealings of Corvo and Eaves which didn’t pan out at all.

    Then he whined like a little kid when Pittsburgh stole his wollipop to get the favourable matchup.

    Every mess that came around this team was made worse every time Murray attempted to solve the problem.

    I’ve never thought too much of Emery but I hope he does have a prosperous career elsewhere.

    As for Spezza and Heatley, they are young players that will get better. It’s just too bad that their GM hasn’t found them some vets and a decent coach to learn from.

  9. PDO says:

    Honest question:

    How much value does a package of Moreau, Stoll and Pitkanen have to Ottawa?

  10. Bruce says:

    I blame Murray entirely for the meltdown.

    So do I. From the moment Murray pulled the shiv out of John Muckler’s back this team has been heading for the cliff. Hired the wrong coach, didn’t deal with his goalie problem, didn’t deal with his morale problem, bungled the Redden negotiations, and made bad trades.

    I mean, Martin Lapointe? Coming in he’d posted five minus seasons in a row and five minus playoffs in a row, and sure enough posted a -2 down the stretch and -1 in the playoffs with a killer penalty that cost the Sens Game 2. Meanwhile the return from the “big” Carolina trade also posted bad negative numbers, as Commodore was -10 in 30 games as a Sen and Stillman -12 in 28 GP.

    Insult to injury was Corvo scoring a hat trick for the ‘Canes in their one match-up. Think he wasn’t a little motivated that night?

    Murray’s ineffectual leadership could be summed up in his ill-timed comment “Uniforms matter. Players don’t.” When I read that I figured Ottawa, already down 2-0, wouldn’t win a game. Unlike Boston, Jersey, Anaheim, Nashville who all won Game 3 when down 2-0, the Sens rolled over at home, 4-1. Season couldn’t end fast enough at that point.

    So at the end of yet another losing season Murray’s resume continues to read “zero Stanley Cups”. Unlike Muckler’s.

  11. Slipper says:

    ___”…disguises how relatively useless Spezza and Heatley are.”__

    Relative to what, exactly?

    At even strength Heatley was +83/-51 while scoring 2.95 points per hour. In a power versus power role. He was 8th in the NHL with 41goals and 9th in the league in even strength goals/60 (1.37)/

    He scored 22 points in 20 playoff games the previous year.

    What the hell am I missing here?

  12. jon k says:

    The Stanley Cup hangover strikes again and heads will roll. No doubt Emery is the goat, but Ottawa should take a lesson from Edmonton and let the media do it’s dirty work.

    LT is right, the organization is the one who suffers when management and leadership gets its hands dirty like Murray has.

    But what a miracle! Next year Emery will be gone and the team will be rested and motivated again, and Murray will be heralded for his bold decision making.

    Players and agents alike will still have this press conference in the back of their minds for the foreseeable future though…

  13. GSC says:

    Spezza and Heatley “useless?” Some of you have certainly got to be kidding…

    Not everyone is going to muck and grind it up and play the same sort of physical game, they have a certain skill set and they utilize it to the best of their ability. It’s what makes them great players. And speaking of Spezza being “soft,” he banged-up his knee trying to make a hit. Heatley also played the body during this past series.

    The club was in a downfall as soon as the overall discipline, lack of focus and effort, and the hangover from a Cup run and an amazing start settled in. Ray Emery was just a part of it, I agree, and Bryan Murray may not be the best man for the job in Ottawa, but to suggest that Spezza and Heatley are useless hockey players is as ridiculous as it gets.

    I’d give a helluva lot to have both of them in Oiler uniforms.

  14. Ducey says:

    Well put LT.

    Last I checked Emery didn’t play any of the 4 games. Presumably if the team had enough leadership among the players and coaches they would have said “Enough already, lets go win a cup”.

    I don’t see why Murray would lay out Emery at a year end conference. Is there anything positive that comes out of that? I guess it allows the media to report that Murray is GOING to clean up the mess. Seems pretty self serving and classless. How about just cleaning up the mess?

    How long has Ottawa been a yearly pick to win the cup? It seems these weighty expectations have finally crushed the spirit of this team and management is running for cover.

  15. Bendelson says:

    To think its a player or two causing the problems in Ottawa is silly. Heatley and Spezza – good point producers. Emery – an average goalie with a bad work ethic.
    Redden – seriously overrated.

    None of them ‘sinks’ a team.

    Ottawa’s problem is deep. It’s organisational and not an easy turnaround. Clearly, as they have been trying for years now…
    I think cleaning house is a good idea – but start with Murray.

    And yes, Commodore is never the ‘player he was made out to be’ is he?. Is he traded so often because he is wanted or ….

  16. Dennis says:

    I don’t think Emery was the biggest problem either and he’s not the first whore and/or drunkard who’s escapades were swept under the rug. And it’s always easier to push the broom the guy getting the cover up is a reason for on-the-ice success.

    I think the most disappointing thing about this is Emery knows why he got the break in ’07 yet he wasn’t willing to work hard enough this year to make sure the rest of the things weren’t in focus.

    So he either got lazy or all the carousing caught up to him.

    LT: what’s the Bo Jackson example you’re talking about?

  17. KlingonHockey says:

    Agree completely. I couldn’t believe some of the stuff I was hearing from that organization. Sure, you might make some of these comments casually, but to do so in public is completely classes and tactless.

    I’m trying to compare this to how Lowe handled Comrie. Lowe kept a fairly stoic front going until the Anaheim trade when he asked for the (1.5?) million bucks. The difference there was that, in the meantime, he didn’t denigrate the player (minus the ONE instance he called him out post-playoffs). It was only once it looked like he was going to be moved that he vented his (and the city’s) frustration and essentially gestured not the let the door hit his ass on the way out. Kind of a black mark, but I think most of Edmonton stands and laughs WITH Lowe on this one.

    I think under Muckler Ottawa was starting to feel like they were treading water, when in fact he had kept them comfortably afloat for a decade. It looks like Murray’s sinking the ship.

    (Coincidentally, maybe they ought to trade Murray and ask for a couple million bucks back from him.)

  18. godot10 says:

    //At even strength Heatley was +83/-51 while scoring 2.95 points per hour. In a power versus power role. He was 8th in the NHL with 41goals and 9th in the league in even strength goals/60 (1.37)/
    He scored 22 points in 20 playoff games the previous year.
    What the hell am I missing here?//

    All that proves is that Daniel Alfredsson is a pretty good hockey player. Take Alfredsson away from the two prima donnas…

    Heatley failed “final exams” against Anaheim, and again in the opening round this year against Pittsburgh.

    Given the choice of going to war with Hemsky or Heatley, it isn’t even close.

    If everybody else does the hard lifting and hard work and there is no threat of imminent physical, I will grant you that Heatley can finish.

    Spoiled college frat boy.

  19. HBomb says:

    All that proves is that Daniel Alfredsson is a pretty good hockey player. Take Alfredsson away from the two prima donnas…

    I respectfully call bullshit. At least when it comes to Heatley.

    I remember something Vic posted back on Oilfans probably about five years ago (mid-2003 season), one of the first posts I ever saw regarding ES 5 on 5 plus/minus. He asked a trivia question about which young player out there put up a decent number on a bad team.

    I managed to get the answer and got a PM and credit for it. It was Heatley on a BAD Atlanta team. -5 at age, what, 21 or 22, playing the tough minutes with Kovalchuk as his LW on a lot of nights.

    The guy is an elite player. If the Sens are foolish enough to go all Mike O’Connell and they think that trading Heatley is the answer, I hope we’re the ones who offer up the 2008 equivalent of Sturm, Primeau and Stuart.

    Put another way, I’d give up Joni Pitkanen plus two other good assets off the active roster to make Dany Heatley an Oiler. And I’m a bigtime pro-Pitkanen guy.

  20. godot10 says:

    Look the Senators results with and without Alfredsson in the lineup.

    And look at the playoff points without Alfredsson on Spezza and Heatley’s line.

    Heatley is a complementary player, a follower. If he had great stats with Kovalchuk, it was because of Kovalchuk. The “boy” can finish if the other four guys do all the work. But that won’t win you anything. He won’t go into the corner if Robyn Regehr is there.

  21. Lowetide says:

    godot10: You argument is absolutely the same one Montreal Expos management gave when they dealt Gary Carter.

    Exactly.

  22. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: Bo Jackson was made the scapegoat for the KC Royals in the 1987 season. It began in spring when the owner (Avron Fogelman) decided he’d step in and tell management to keep Bo on the roster. I’m certain John Schuerholz would have been GM at that time.

    Anyway, Bo had a “special” relationship with the owner that allowed him to be a special player within the organization. There were a couple of well publicized examples of Bo arrogance that made the news (and this in a town used to WWJD personalities like Amos Otis) and of course there was always football if the baseball thing didn’t work out.

    In July, Bo was slumping and was pinch hit for and cleaned out his locker. It hit the news like a torpedo, and I think Fogelman flew to Toronto (they were on the road and I think it was Toronto).

    Anyway, out of that came the news that Bo would play football after the baseball season which many in the media (and outside the media) felt was the big reason for the locker action.

    What killed that season was player reaction to Jackson. Willie Wilson I remember for sure said something ridiculous and after that Kansas City baseball fans ripped him a new one with the media close behind and ownership too iirc did well enough to show.

    Fans outside KC were even worse, in fact in New York it was awful, painful. One of the reasons I’ve always respected George Brett is that he stayed out of it to my knowledge.

    Finally, Bo, who could never be mistaken for media savvy (he stuttered) said something like playing football was a hobby, like hunting or fishing.

    And then the media shoved it up his ass and down his throat and the same time.

    It was awful.

  23. HBomb says:

    If he had great stats with Kovalchuk, it was because of Kovalchuk.

    Once again, bullshit.

    Pre-lockout, Kovalchuk may have put up nice counting numbers, but he and Rick Nash were in the same ballpark in terms of two-way play.

    Ilya’s come a long way (as has Nash) in that regard since then, but when Heatley and Kovalchuk were together, it was plainly obvious which of the two was the better two-way player.

    And I’d tend to argue that, without looking at the numbers and in spite of Kovalchuk’s progress, it’s still Heatley.

  24. Coach pb9617 says:

    Heatley is a complementary player, a follower.

    In the history of wrongest things said about hockey players, this is one of the most wrongest.

  25. toqueboy says:

    wow…everyone hating heatley. i think he’s a beauty and the notion that he’s a spoiled brat is ridiculous…he’s an extremely nice person if you get to meet him…i don’t think you’d be hating if he potted 50 as an oiler…but you’d probably say it’s all hemcoff…

    commence lightning rod:…at any rate i didn’t come talk about heat’r…his numbers speak for him…and typically his linemates have career years as alfie, kovie and spezza , etc had.

    onto a few other things….lowe’s always had a hard on for redden and everyone here wants a veteran dman…i don’t want redden, but i’d like to know what people think he can sign for after two “cough” years.

    i just have to say i think hockey players need to party…there’s a long history of it…edmonton fans should certainly be aware of it…the boy’s on the bus weren’t exactly virgin choir boys. point is…i think the seventy year old management the last five years is creating the problem…not the 22 year old players…when emery is playing well, that team has a swagger about it that very few teams have…at any rate i’m sure he’s going to be beauty still…i’ll say this…when you’re winning and doing shots, everyone in the bar loves you…right now emery is just dropping too many glasses and the bar keep is pissed off.

    i think the cancer thing is overrated and i think the oil should trade for him.he’ll be cheap…like pronger cheap because of the horrible public relations fiasco this week/year. what about roli/torres for emery/vermette

    or some shit like that. i just can’t believe that no one has suggested trying to get him…i might have offered too much, but he’s certainly better than roli is and it doesn’t exactly seem like roli is aces in the locker room. obviously i only do this if we can get rid of roli’s money….and i think roli would go over well in the media as a backup to gerber.

    i can’t belieave i’m theonly one that wants a potential stud goalie…’cause i don’t believe in JD/DD but i certainly believe in emery…maybe he just needs some younger management who also partied to teach him the rules.everyone talking like spezza should have said something…how do you think spezz gets any pussy? there’s definitely certain people who drive the pussy train for their friends and i think spezz gets a bunch of tail from emery…at any rate, everything about emery is old school to me…the parties…the girls…the super tough guy…the winning…and the whole not taking practice seriously? fuck, he’s a goalie. i’ve seen weirder shit than that out of goalies, that’s for sure.
    i love him…and think the oilers could handle/thrive with his personality…and i think the upside of an emery/garon tandem would be sweet…

    the thought of roli playing 25 games next year scare the shit out of me.

    commence roasting.

  26. godot10 says:

    //wow…everyone hating heatley. i think he’s a beauty and the notion that he’s a spoiled brat is ridiculous…he’s an extremely nice person if you get to meet him…i don’t think you’d be hating if he potted 50 as an oiler…//

    Jimmy Carson scored 49 goals as an Oiler.

  27. toqueboy says:

    i said 50

    :)

  28. Bruce says:

    i just can’t believe that no one has suggested trying to get him

    Toqueboy: On the trade deadline thread, I suggested — to dead fucking silence — the idea of Roli for Emery straight up. I thought at the time (and still do) that would have been a good trade for Ottawa for this year (too late now). I also thought at the time (and am not so sure now) it would be a worthwhile gamble for the Oilers.

    For next year Emery has a lower cap hit by $500 K, plus he is signed one additional year. Lots of talk the “long-term” contract was a bad idea for this guy, but from this point forward it’s just a two-year deal, and there’s no doubt the guy has got lots to prove.

    We don’t have septuagenarian management here — Lowe, MacT and Huddy were all boys on the bus, did the rounds, and all of them played and partied with Fuhrsie, Mess, Andy et al. That team had a pretty good handle on when to let loose and when to focus on hockey; have things changed that much in 20 years?

    Other questions: Coaching staff aside, do we have strong enough character and chemistry on the club to keep a guy like this between the lines? Or is he apt to develop his own little band of followers and polarize the room as reportedly happened in Ottawa?

  29. toqueboy says:

    re: strong character…it’s tough to say. horcoff, souray, staois and pisani provide a degree of character. i think it’s tough to say what with all the young kids. they all seem to have their head’s on straight, but who knows. if there’s a “cancer” in the oiler’s room it would appear that it’s torres, currently, although who knows.

    plus we supposedly have a captain with mitt fulls of character, but i believe he’s on sybatical because i haven’t seen it in awhile. stoll and reasoner seem to provide some as well…

    i think we have enough stock that we could handle it. i certainly think it would give us more leverage in dealing with garon should we elect to resign him after next year.

  30. Jonathan says:

    //Other questions: Coaching staff aside, do we have strong enough character and chemistry on the club to keep a guy like this between the lines? Or is he apt to develop his own little band of followers and polarize the room as reportedly happened in Ottawa?//

    Looking at the guys the Oilers draft, the most consistent quality that Edmonton drafts for is character. Add to that our veteran coaching staff, especially a guy like MacT who doesn’t pander to first round picks, and a few character veterans (Souray/Staios, Horc/Pisani/Moreau/Reasoner, toss in Hemsky if you want as well) and I don’t think it would be a problem.

    Say what you will about this organization, but MacTavish wasn’t afraid to scratch Torres/Stoll, and I think it’s highly unlikely he would allow the kind of culture that’s appeared in Ottawa.

  31. Dennis says:

    Raffi and Emery together? You could have a raffle among the sphere titled “pay to be an Oilers beat reporter for the year.”;)

    Look, if I was a pro athlete or had money or was really good looking — and was in my 20′s again — dear lord what I wouldn’t be getting on with. Tell the truth, I once did pretty good with what I had;) But now you throw me in the pool where these pro athletes swim and I’d make a few waves.

    Or a typhoon;)

    But Emery had to know that if he wanted to drink and whore, he had to work hard enough to the point where his play was hardly ever question; because if it got to that point, he knew it would come back on him.

    So, I’m not saying I think all the blame goes on him but I don’t feel badly for him.

    Bruce: I’ve heard some Emery stories myself so that’s why I didn’t chime in when you threw our your trade proposal. I’m a numbers guy which means I don’t pay a lot of attention to intangibles but Ray seems like bad trouble and he’s also a sulk. It’s always someone else’s fault so here he’s getting the first hint that his career could be over and he’s still being Ray.

  32. Mark says:

    Raffi and Emery together …. how long until the first away game in LA where Raffi utters the line, “I was just looking for Emery”?

    I think this room is more sensitive to “bad” seeds than everyone else is letting on. Think about how Raffi was ‘persona non-gratta” this season. Every other injured player aside from Sanderson was around the team, interviewed, a part of things. Raffi disappeared, never to be seen, heard from or mentioned again. Not one feel good story about his rehab, a la Matt Greene. Not one interview about how next season he’ll be back and better than ever, nothing. Until Mac T “Lupuled” him at the end of season presser, he was off everyone’s radar.

    Emery doesn’t come here, and someone like that doesn’t enter the Oilers’ dressing room until Gagner, Cogs, Nilsson, Gilbert, Grebs, Brodizak and whoever else the Oilers will use become seasoned veterans.

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